The Election Commission on Monday allotted ‘flaming torch’ (mashaal) election symbol to the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena, rejecting their claim to the ‘Trishul’ citing religious connotation.
In an order on the dispute in the Shiv Sena, the Election Commission allotted ‘ShivSena – Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray’ as the party name for the Thackeray faction, and ‘Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena’ (Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena) as the name for the Eknath Shinde group of the party.
The Commission also asked the Shinde faction to submit a fresh list of three symbols by 10 am on Tuesday.
The Thackeray faction welcomed the Commission order and began publicising its new name and symbol on the party’s social media handles.
“We are happy that the three names that matter to us most -Uddhav ji, Balasaheb and Thackeray – are retained in the new name,” Thackeray loyalist and former Maharashtra minister Bhaskar Jadhav said.
Earlier Monday, the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction had approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the October 8 Election Commission order freezing the party name and election symbol of ‘bow and arrow’.
The EC had said the interim order will continue “till the final determination of the dispute”.
Since, the last date for filing nominations for the November 3 by-election in the Andheri East Assembly seat is October 14, if the two factions decide to contest they will have to use the new symbols.
The Commission also rejected ‘Trishul’ (trident) and rising ‘Gada’ (mace) as election symbols claimed by the two factions of the Shiv Sena, citing their religious connotation.
It also pointed out that the ‘Rising Sun’ election symbol sought by both factions was reserved for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar is learnt to have taken a tough stand against the allocation of symbols with religious connotations to political parties.
The Commission noted that the ‘flaming torch’ symbol was earlier allotted to the Samata Party, which was derecognised in 2004. The Commission said it had decided to list the ‘flaming torch’ as a ‘free symbol’ following the request from the Thackeray faction.
The rival factions of Shiv Sena had both claimed ‘Trishul’ and ‘Rising Sun’ as election symbols. The rival factions had also listed ‘Shiv Sena – Balasaheb Thackeray’ as their first choice for the party name.
Team Thackeray leaders Vinayak Raut and Anil Desai were confabulating with lawyers in the national capital on the party’s legal strategies as the Delhi High Court was likely to list the petition challenging the freezing of party name and symbol for hearing later this week.
The Commission had barred both the factions from using the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the election symbol ‘bow and arrow’ in order to place the rival groups on an even keel and to protect their rights and interests ahead of the Andheri East assembly bypolls.
Shinde had rebelled against Thackeray’s leadership, claiming the support of 40 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs and 12 of its 18 members in the Lok Sabha.
Following Thackeray’s resignation as chief minister of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition, Shinde became chief minister with the support of the BJP.
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